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Oh Fric! Teams to protest suspension ban?

2014-07-14 10:56

MERC SUSPENSION ILLEGAL? Dominant Mercedes could be in trouble at the 2014 German GP as it removes its complex suspension. Image: AP/Jon Super

Earlier in July 2014 Wheels24 reported that the International Automobile Federation had ruled an innovative suspension called Fric (Front to Rear Inter-connected), used by many teams, was possibly illegal.

Now a technical directive issued by F1's race director Charlie Whiting has opened the door for some teams to lodge protests ahead of the 2014 German GP at Hockenheim on July 20. Uncertainty apparently reigns when it comes to F1's new technical controversy.

Whiting warned teams that without a unanimous decision about the controversial technology the risk of protests in Germany and elsewhere would escalate.

COMPLEX SYSTEM

Fric is a complex hydraulically controlled system that "legally" mimics active suspension. It has become almost widespread on the F1 grid yet the reasons for the federation's sudden clampdown is the subject of intense speculation. Its ruling pushed teams into a corner - agree, or allow the spectre of team protests to rule. A concerted effort for unanimity has been taking place.

Russia's f1news.ru reports that seven of F1's 11 teams have unofficially committed to allowing Fric to remain until the end of 2014, before it is banned in 2015. Those teams are reportedly Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes, McLaren, Marussia, Lotus and Williams. That leaves Toro Rosso, Caterham, Sauber and Force India.

It is rumoured that, of the undecided teams, Force India does not use a Fric-based system. Asked by Sky News if it would protest the ruling, Force India's chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer said: "It depends if we're running it or not. We'll do what the majority want but it's not about majority, it's about unanimity.

"I think the likelihood of unanimous agreement is zero. There will be people out there who will say that if the federation thinks it should be banned then let's do that."

Meanwhile, a McLaren spokesman said: "As always, we'll comply with whatever the federation decides."

'PERSPECTIVE CHANGED'

Mercedes team chairman Niki Lauda said: "The system has been used for two-and-a-half years and all technical inspections have occurred without objection. It is difficult to understand why suddenly the perspective has changed."

Lauda called on the federation to take a precise position on the legality of the system. "We don't want to invest any more in something that is against the rules. We want to know whether it is legal or illegal."

Auto Motor und Sport's F1 correspondent, Michael Schmidt, said he expected Red Bull would also remove its version of Fric from its cars ahead of Hockenheim.
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